Bridging the Gap: A Customer Perspective

OECM customers are unique, with varying needs and requirements. None more so than our partners in the Facilities and Operations world. OECM’s Facilities Priority Projects (FPP) team including our trusted experts, Norm Vezina and Joe McLoughlin, recently connected with two of our valued School Board sector customers to explore how OECM, as a collaborative sourcing partner, can help ‘bridge the gap’. Whether it’s including a greater representation of supplier partners on our agreements or offering a wider variety of products and services, we’ve got the details here.

photos of Carole Horton, District School Board Ontario North East and Miro Vala of Ottawa Catholic School Board with their associated logos

We spoke with Carole Horton, Manager of Building Services at District School Board Ontario North East (DSBONE), and Miro Vala, Superintendent of Planning and Facilities at Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) and his team and uncovered areas of success and key opportunities for future collaboration and improvement.


Teamwork and Responsiveness

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Working collaboratively with our customers, OECM provides free, no-obligation access to over 360 agreements in 80 different categories of products and services that help you save time and money. We work closely with you to better understand your specific needs and respond accordingly.

As Carole Horton explains, “Needs vary from School Board to School Board, and within their own organization, based on individual size and departmental structure. For us, as a smaller Board, we find that any extra assistance is helpful. Wherever OECM can help take that load off, we definitely are interested and will take advantage of that support.”

Miro Vala at Ottawa Catholic School Board recalls his experience with OECM’s responsiveness on the Unit Ventilators RFT, initiated as part of OECM’s support for the COVID-19 Resiliency Infrastructure Stream (CVRIS) funding in early 2021. “OECM was very responsive in adding our request for ‘wall-mounted unit ventilators’ to their posted RFT,” he says. “The resulting agreements were a huge component to our project success.”

OECM’s agreements offer you flexibility and control to help you manage Facility-related procurements. While OECM can help make it easier for you to access what you need, ultimately, procurement decisions and choices about how you use OECM’s agreements are entirely yours to make.

Second Stage Process

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The Second Stage Selection process is one specific area where flexibility and choice are key! OECM has guides and templates available to support your Second Stage processes. DSBONE and OCSB leveraged these, with results that met their specific needs. Read more about OECM’s approach to the Second Stage process here.

“We find the Second Stage process simple and straightforward. We used it for both LED Lighting Retrofit Contractor and Custodial Supplies and Equipment agreements and, particularly in the case of Custodial Supplies, it helped us identify the best supplier partners for us to work with based on our needs – we could customize our requests, receive pricing based on exact specifications and work with a local supplier,” notes Carole Horton.

Customer Engagement

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Customer feedback and participation in the sourcing process is a key differentiator for OECM. Whether it’s as part of a Project Advisory Committee (PAC), general customer engagement, as an Evaluation Committee member on a procurement project, or in one-on-one business reviews, OECM regularly engages with our customers to obtain feedback.

“I appreciate what OECM offers us and know that there is cost, time, and expertise involved in the services provided,” notes Miro Vala. “An opportunity for improvement is to encourage more robust supplier participation and greater regional representation across all the areas OECM serves.”

What’s Next? Opportunities for Improvement in 2022 and beyond.

Opportunities for Collaboration

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“There has always been a lot of cooperation between Purchasing and Facilities departments but there is room for improvement. There’s an opportunity for OECM to help bridge that gap by providing support to optimize the current procurement processes we use.” – Miro Vala

OECM creates opportunities for collaboration within sectors, including School Boards. We know that there are great financial and logistical values to be gained through collaborative procurement by consolidating volume from several customers. Moving forward, OECM can help our customers bridge that gap. Whether that’s coordinating conversations between Facilities and Purchasing departments or across organizations, OECM’s Customer Support team is here to help bring people together.

Supplier Partner Outreach and Communications

“Even in smaller communities, like ours, we have local suppliers who we work with, who might benefit from learning more about OECM. There is a lot of opportunity and value for local suppliers to get involved and, from a School Board and others (e.g., municipalities), there is the opportunity for additional work that they wouldn’t normally be able to access.” – Carole Horton

OECM’s Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) teams work in tandem to foster deeper connections between supplier partners and customers. For example, when upcoming procurements are posted, our OECM teams communicate this information to our customers so that they can inform their local or well-known supplier partners and encourage their participation. We use several tactics to connect with suppliers from across the province to encourage their involvement in upcoming opportunities.

In 2022 and beyond, we’ll continue to inform suppliers on what it means to ‘work with OECM’ and how to participate, as well as widen our reach to encourage more local and regional supplier representation on upcoming and newly re-tendered agreements. Stay tuned!

Do you have additional feedback or questions for OECM?

Reach out to OECM’s Customer Support team as your first point of contact!

Take a moment to explore OECM’s new website! It’s easy for others in your organization to also gain access to the Marketplace. Invite them to register for an OECM account – it’s easy and free, there’s no obligation to buy from OECM, and access is provided within 24 hours for all eligible customers.

Check out OECM’s Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts and don’t hesitate to reach out to us there. We’ll point you in the right direction!

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